Stopping an Office Nightmare

Americans are watching in horror this morning as details are revealed about the shooting at a country music festival at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas Sunday night. With reports revealing 50 dead and 400 injured, this is the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history.

In the wake of this shooting, many employers may be asking themselves whether they are prepared should such a horrific event occur at the their workplace. And it is a good question for employers to be asking. According to OSHA, nearly 2 million Americans are victims of workplace violence each year. This staggering statistic and the recent tragedies emphasize the importance of addressing workplace violence.

In Ohio, employers have a duty to protect their employees and to furnish a safe workplace. Minimizing the risk of workplace violence starts from the very beginning –with pre-employment screening. In addition, employers should review handbook policies regarding workplace violence and weapons in the workplace (including conceal carry policies). Companies should consider adopting procedures for handling an active shooter situation and implement an emergency plan and evacuation procedures.

Training is also an important component of keeping your employees safe. Managers should receive training on how to recognize the warning signs of potentially troubled employees. In addition, front-line employees with customer interface should also be trained on how to de-escalate potentially dangerous situations. This is extremely important in retail and restaurant industries where employees have high levels of customer interaction. Employers are also encouraged to consider holding training drills for active shooter situations in which employees are trained on what to do, where to go, how to account for employees, and the procedure for alerting authorities.

While no employer wants to think that a situation like this could happen in their workplace, the grim reality is that no workplace is immune. However, employers can proactively take steps to keep their employees safe. The old adage, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" rings particularly true in this case.

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